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Planning Board Minutes 11/17/2010

SOUTH BERWICK PLANNING BOARD
REGULAR MEETING MINUTES
November 17, 2010

ROLL CALL
Present: John Stirling – Chairman, Mimi Demers - Secretary, Bill Straub – Vice Chairman, Joel Moulton, Terrence Parker, and Kate Pelletier, Planning Coordinator.

Absent: Warren Spencer.

CALL TO ORDER
Chair John Stirling called the Planning Board meeting to order at 7:03 P.M.

Kate Pelletier stated that Roberta Orsini tentatively scheduled a Planning Board/Council workshop on the proposed ordinance amendments for December 7th. She asked if the Board members would be free that night. The Board agreed to hold the workshop on December 7th.

Mr. Straub asked if the meeting would be held before the regular Council meeting or during. Ms. Pelletier stated that she would ask Roberta and get back to the Board.

MINUTES APPROVAL
November 3, 2010 – Planning Board regular Meeting: Motion by Mr. Straub, second by Ms. Demers to approve meeting minutes as amended, passed unanimously.

PUBLIC AUDIENCE

No comments from the public.

CORRESPONDENCE

No correspondence.

OLD BUSINESS
Discuss amendments to Chapters 140 and 121 concerning private roads –Draft #2
Mr. Stirling stated that Kate Pelletier had put together a second draft of the proposed amendment based on discussions at the last meeting. He asked if anyone had any comments.

Mr. Straub stated that he thought the ordinance provides a clear process for a road that doesn’t get accepted by the town and requires that all roads be built to the same standards.

Ms. Pelletier stated that she spoke with Public Works Director, Jon St. Pierre, who brought up a good point. If you have a private road that doesn’t need to come to the Planning Board and the ordinance says that sidewalks may be required by the Planning Board, who determines whether or not a sidewalk would be required for a private road? Mr. Straub asked what private road would be built that wouldn’t come before the Planning Board. Ms. Pelletier stated that a family subdivision may end up with six or seven lots on a private road. Mr. Straub stated that he thought that would be considered a driveway under the new definition.

Ms. Demers stated that she had the same question and that she isn’t necessarily comfortable requiring a family to build a road to town standards when all they want to do is divide off a few lots for their families. Mr. Straub suggested adding the phrase “any road requiring Planning Board approval would have to meet these standards.”

Mr. Moulton stated that the dilemma with family subdivisions is that the lots may eventually be sold off to someone outside the family. Using one standard for all situations would eliminate that problem. Mr. Straub stated that he has seen that happen and you end up with four or five families on a dirt road without a homeowner’s association or anything like that.

Mr. Straub asked if driveway was a defined term in the code. Ms. Pelletier stated that it wasn’t. She also stated that in Eliot you’re allowed to have up to three lots on an access way. Beyond that the landowner must bring the road up to town standards.

Ms. Pelletier suggested that a provision could be added that would allow a driveway to serve up to three lots with relaxed design and construction standards. For example, you could require a 30’ right of way and a 15’ graveled or paved travel way.

Mr. Straub stated that one of the problems the Board set out to address with this change was the situation when an approved subdivision road with more than five lots does not get approved by the town council. He stated that the ordinance now addresses that problem. He suggested that the standards for private roads would address family subdivisions and perhaps all that’s left to be done is to apply the private road standards to lots not requiring Planning Board approval. Ms. Pelletier stated that a private road could come to the Planning Board for approval. Mr. Straub stated that if a four lot subdivision comes before the Planning Board it would be required to meet those standards in Appendix A.

Mr. Stirling stated that a four lot subdivision could come before the Planning Board and want to put in a private road and there would be nothing the Planning Board could do to stop them, which defeats the purpose of this amendment. Mr. Moulton agreed and stated that defining a “driveway” would solve that problem.

Mr. Straub stated that if you have a driveway serving five lots that were divided incrementally a 16’ paved road has some public safety elements whereas a driveway has none. Ms. Pelletier stated that you add certain standards for a driveway that would address public safety issues. For instance, on top of the 30’ right of way and 15’ traveled way you could require a turn around area for emergency vehicles. Those relaxed standards would apply to a driveway servicing up to three lots. Beyond that you would not be able to get a building permit without upgrading the road. To go a step further, you could exempt the first lot from having to meet any standard. Mr. Moulton and Mr. Stirling stated that they would be agreeable to that idea.

Mr. Straub asked if the homeowner would be required to meet the new standards or the standards in Appendix A if they exceeded three lots. Ms. Pelletier stated that any access way serving more than three lots would have to meet the standards of a local residential street. The provisions for private roads in Appendix A would be eliminated altogether. That way, even if a road does not come before the Planning Board for approval it would still have to meet the same standards and the code officer would oversee the approval.

Mr. Parker asked if this would be creating nonconformity in certain situations. Ms. Pelletier stated that anything in existence prior to the adoption of the ordinance would be grandfathered. Ms. Demers stated that happens with any ordinance change.

Mr. Straub stated that if driveway is defined and limits are put on them that would allow different standards for up to three lots. What is in effect today is the private road standards in Appendix A, which would apply to even one or two house lots. He stated that he wasn’t sure if it was the intention of Appendix A to require a one or two lot driveway meet those standards, but that’s certainly what it appears to be requiring.

Ms. Demers agreed and stated that she has friends who would love to share their land with their children but the cost of improving their driveway to meet Appendix A is cost prohibitive. She stated that they were told by the code enforcement officer that they would need to upgrade their driveway. Mr. Stirling stated that he also thought that was far too restrictive.

Mr. Straub stated that the five-lot threshold was too many in his opinion. He stated that he thought three lots were acceptable to him. That way the first two or three lots could be for family members without the astronomical cost of upgrading the road.

Ms. Pelletier asked if the Board was agreeable to exempting the first lot from these standards. The Board agreed to exempt the first lot.

Ms. Pelletier stated that you could take it a step further by offering even more relaxed standards for lots where no further development is feasible. Mr. Stirling stated that he has seen plenty of “undevelopable” lots that were developed. Ms. Pelletier agreed stating that people may purchase abutting land as it becomes available.

Mr. Straub stated that he thought the ordinance should address the concept of not needing Planning Board approval. Ms. Pelletier stated that she would add some wording to address that in the next draft as well as adding a definition of “driveway” with relaxed standards and the exemption of the first lot.

Ms. Pelletier asked the Board what they wanted to do about the sidewalk issue Jon St. Pierre brought up. The Board agreed that only roads requiring Planning Board review and approval would ever need sidewalks. The ordinance as it is currently written states that the Planning Board “may” require sidewalks (Section 121-44). If a private road is approved by the code enforcement officer subsequent to incremental family divisions it would not be required to install sidewalks.

Discuss Planning Board future work plan
Mr. Stirling stated that everyone has in their packets the town of York’s Low Impact Development standards, which was referenced by LaMarr Clannon during her presentation at the last meeting. He asked if the Board wanted to discuss these standards with the Council.

Ms. Demers stated that she thought the Board should talk about this with the Council and stressed the importance of public education with standards like these. Mr. Straub suggested that the Planning Board should present detailed language on the zoning district boundary change and the private road issue but should discuss low impact development standards in a general fashion with them to get a sense of the direction they want to go in. The Board agreed.

Ms. Demers stated that she wasn’t crazy about the general language in York’s ordinance. Mr. Parker suggested that LaMarr Clannon would be an excellent resource to get more detailed language from. He stated that he also thought the Planning Board should champion this issue and asked if there was a way to get this message out to the public.

Mr. Stirling stated that it was a shame the Council didn’t hear Ms. Clannon’s presentation. Mr. Straub stated that when the Board meets with the Council on December 7th they can hear more about the direction the Planning Board wants to go in. He noted the importance of stressing that a change like this would most likely be a cost reduction to developers and isn’t a burden on them.

Ms. Demers asked if Ms. Pelletier could find a one-page handout she could give to the Council that would explain low impact development. Ms. Pelletier stated that she could look for something.

Mr. Parker asked if any progress had been made on requiring progress schedules from developers. Mr. Stirling stated that it was on the work plan list Ms. Pelletier created. Ms. Pelletier stated that she could draft something in time for the Council workshop and that it would be a fairly simple change.

Mr. Moulton asked if the low impact development standards could be combined somehow with establishing a setback from wells. Mr. Stirling stated that the comments on the work plan list say that Joe Rousselle indicated there was a 100’ setback from septic tanks, but he thought it was only 50’.

The Board agreed to re-prioritize the work plan list at the next regular Planning Board meeting.

Ms. Demers stated that in Chapters 121 and 140 there are definitions that appear differently in both chapters and terms that aren’t defined. Ms. Pelletier asked if the Board had considered consolidating all definitions in one place. Ms. Demers stated that Jim Fisk talked a lot about that. Ms. Demers stated that the issue is that some definitions only apply to a specific chapter. Ms. Pelletier stated that if that’s the case then you could put in parentheses following the term that it applies to X Chapter only.

The Board agreed to discuss consolidated definitions at a future meeting.

Mr. Parker stated that he noticed the work plan talks about darksky.org and asked if establishing a lighting ordinance had been discussed before. Mr. Straub stated that it had been touched on briefly over the summer but never went anywhere. Ms. Pelletier stated that she checked the darksky.org website and found that they are currently in the process of drafting model ordinances for municipalities. She stated that once they’re complete she would forward them along to the Board.

OTHER
None.

MEMBER COMMENTS

Ms. Demers stated that she attended the CMP public information meeting last night, which was very under attended. She stated that the Planning Board will be asked to review a major site plan application with some Shoreland zoning issues. Mr. Stirling questioned the Shoreland zone aspect. Ms. Pelletier stated that essential services in the Shoreland zone have to be reviewed by the Planning Board.

Ms. Demers stated that they will be putting up some very large poles along 236 near the high school. She stated that she asked what would happen if the Planning Board denied the application and was told that it would go to the Public Utilities Commission. Ms. Pelletier stated that the Maine Power Reliability Program has a website if anyone had any questions as to the planned expansion.

Ms. Demers asked if the Shoreland zoning ordinance was passed by the Council. Mr. Stirling stated that it was passed.

Ms. Demers asked when the Board would receive the new ordinance to add to the code book. Ms. Pelletier stated that she would ask the town clerk about that.

Mr. Parker asked how a property owner knows that they are bound by the Shoreland regulations, especially since there is so much shoreline in town. Ms. Demers stated that the Board talked about having the Conservation Commission mount a bigger and better public education program. Mr. Stirling stated that unfortunately, the Conservation Commission only has two members right now.

Ms. Demers stated that the State of Maine puts out a full size handbook for homeowners in the Shoreland zone. She suggested that the town get a bunch of those and give them out to the public. Mr. Parker stated that most people probably would not read it. Ms. Demers agreed that it was a substantial amount of reading material but stated that it’s the law and the responsibility of the homeowner to familiarize themselves with it.

Mr. Parker stated that if there was a better vehicle for delivering information then there wouldn’t be as many enforcement issues. Mr. Stirling stated that the Conservation Commission has a limited budget for mailers and things like that. Mr. Straub stated that the Planning Board is a regulatory body and it’s not really in their purview to do something like that.

Motion by Ms. Demers, second by Mr. Straub to adjourn the regular meeting. The meeting was adjourned without objection at 8:41 PM.